NRM big names fall
The recently concluded NRM party primary elections had everything that can go wrong in an election. There was no clear voters’ register which prompted the party chairman, President Museveni to direct that anyone known to be an NRM supporter with a national ID and residing in a polling area could vote. Many voters were bribed, the party electoral commission registrars were ill prepared, and violence was widespread.
In many areas, candidates were seen on camera flexing muscles with NRM registrars while others grabbed the Declaration Forms from the registrars and tore them. They accused the registrars of conniving with their competitors to fraudulently declare losers as winners.
By September 10, the NRM Secretariat had confirmed it had received over 200 petitions on various grounds. The commonest reasons for the petitions were rigging, fraud, and intimidation resulting from electoral violence.
Amanya Anne who contested for the Bundibugyo Woman MP alleged that she would have won but “wide spread fraud, voting irregularities, sub-county registrars bought, and a climate of voter intimidation” came in the way of her victory. It is almost the same cry by losers in most constituencies throughout the country.
In Mbale, men in police uniform were seen beating up the district Woman MP Connie Galiwango, who was competing with Lydia Wanyoto for the NRM party flag. Results, which should have been announced in a few minutes after polling, were not out a week later.
The height of electoral violence was capped by a shooting incident in Rushenyi County involving Labour State Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana who has since been remanded by court on charges of attempted murder and threatening violence.
Rukutana, as deputy attorney general in President Museveni’s government, should be the epitome of law and order.
A number of others ministers were defeated in these primaries including Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Adolph Kasaija Mwesigye, who lost to a little-known Davis Kamukama in Bunyangabu County.
In Sembabule District, the current Woman MP Anifa Kawooya was allegedly assaulted by supporters of her opponent and she was hospitalised.
In Mawogola North constituency of the same district, supporters of two powerful rival candidates Aine Kaguta Sodo and Shatsi Kutesa fought. Aine is President Museveni’s brother while Shatsi Kutesa is the daughter in-law of the president. The prominence of the contestants and the familial nature of the feud forced the NRM Electoral Commission Chairman, Tanga Odoi, to suspend the election and refer it to President Museveni.
In the aftermath of the chaos, the NRM party chairman, President Museveni frantically toured hotspots of the electoral violence. On Sept. 10, Museveni met the warring parties in Sembabule but failed to resolve the empasse. He denied sending his brother Aine Sodo to contest for MP against Kutesa; the daughter and anointed successor of the powerful Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, who was relingushing the seat after about 30 years.
“Sodo, like any Ugandan has a right to stand for any elective office,” Museveni said.
Unprepared to lose
The recently elected NRM Vice Chairman for Buganda, Godfrey Kiwanda, told The Independent that the violence in elections is brought about by people who have a mentality they have to always win.
“In an election it’s also important to think about losing it. If you lose in an election, it is not the end of the world. We are all Ugandans and Uganda is for us all, no one should cause violence because of an election,” said Kiwanda who is a minister of state for tourism.
Charles Romushana, a political commentators, says the NRM primary elections have exposed Ugandans in the villages as vulnerable to corruption. “There were instances where people were lining up at one candidate’s house to get Shs1500 each. This shows the level of desperation in the ordinary Ugandans. This is likely to replay in the general elections,” says Romushana.
About violence, Romushana advises the opposition to brace for more violence. “If the NRM candidates would kill their fellow NRM supporters, how much violence will they met out on the opposition? The security forces have not yet joined, they have been trained to torment the opposition and they will unleash violence in the 2021 elections especially against the opposition,” Romushana warns.